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Q and A with Chef Jesse Schenker of The Gander

Q and A with Chef Jesse Schenker of The Gander

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Chef Jesse Schenker became a household name with Recette, and now he woos a slightly different crowd with the opening of Gander.

Chef Jesse Schenker turned heads when he opened up Recette, an upscale urban American restaurant with its infamous chef’s tasting menu, “Mondays with Jesse.” The Daily Meal spoke with Chef Schenker about his new venture, Gander, which just opened last month in New York’s Flatiron District.

Congratulations on your new restaurant! How is this concept different from Recette?

The Gander is more "everyday" than Recette. Our lunch, mid-day and brunch (which just launched May 3rd) menus feature salads, sandwiches, burgers and other dishes that are comforting to our guests, and during dinner, we want people to feel the same. Our snacks, starters, pastas and entrees remind people of familiar dishes and flavors, with a contemporary twist.

The menu seems to have some interesting takes on comfort food, as well as small plates. Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes?

We serve innovative, yet approachable, food by transforming familiar American favorites into contemporary renditions. I constantly find inspiration from old cookbooks and classic recipes. It is important to me to explore and study various techniques because the challenge is what inspires me to continue to develop new ideas and dishes.

What would you say is your favorite dish on the menu, and why?

One of my favorite dishes on the menu is the Spaghetti & Clams with razor clams, littlenecks, and geoduck. The traditional dish is an iconic classic that people love, and I think it really demonstrates how we can take something simple and interpret it in a new light, that is still just as "craveable."

Best Emerging Chefs

The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

After presenting two American chefs (Moore, Bilet) opposite each other, here a young chef of 27 years native of Florida but who choose New York City to pursue his passion. In January 2010, Jesse Schenker decided to open his own restaurant, RECETTE, from his concept Recette Private Dining (Superior dining out of the restaurant).

Beyond the fashion and trends, Schenker creates an American cuisine with strong French roots (and refined culinary techniques). A high level of creative cuisine despite his air of comfort food. This cozy restaurant became one of the best places for a great dinner in NYC. For both critics and lovers of good food.

A Chef and a cuisine on the rise, not to mention his excellent Pastry chef Christina Lee (former Per Se).


1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine at RECETTE and what is it main characteristics?

JSchenker Recette is an urban, contemporary American restaurant located in New York’s Greenwich Village, which opened its doors in January 2010. Recette features a menu of contemporary American snacks and plates which feature seasonal ingredients manipulated with classical technique.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

JSchenker– From my childhood, I remember eating a lot of home cooked meats and stews. I have early memories of cooking with my grandmother, helping her prepare fresh vegetables and making soup.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

JSchenker- I love uni, salt, olive oil and sherry vinegar. I don’t really have a favorite ingredient. I love salty and acidic foods.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

JSchenker- I am always reading about what other chefs are doing in NYC and around the world. I learn something new from everyone.

5-(Scoffier) I know that the chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance, Paris) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you have the chance to spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces? (Your relation with your suppliers…)

JSchenker- I am very particular about my produce- I wish I had more time to spend at a market, but these days, I do not. I am very specific with my suppliers and have a great relationship with them. They know how particular I am about freshness, so they only send me the best.

6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at RECETTE?

JSchenker- I sit downstairs and do research when I get sick of seeing the same dish on the menu night after night. I have this great book called Culinary Artistry. I’ll read through that and make a list of fall ingredients and call my vendors to see what’s available and when.

7-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from new technology (sous-vide etc.) in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?

JSchenker- I do own multiple immersion circulators and I have been really into the ISI cream chargers lately. Carbonating things. But for the most part, I like doing things very simply, just with perfect execution and fresh product.

8-(Scoffier) Actually, New York is a great city for the gastronomy but what are the good things and less good sides of New York for a Chef and a restaurant?

JSchenker– The good thing is that I love what I do. I love everything about being a chef and owning and operating a restaurant. I thrive on the multiple day to day madness and challenges, and there’s always something that must be done. It’s constant, and that is why it is great being in New York. It’s very competitive, so you always have to keep moving forward. So, in the same sense, it can be a negative thing, because at times, it can feel very daunting.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Jesse Schenker and RECETTE?

JSchenker- One of the signature dishes at Recette is the Berkshire Pork Belly with Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel:

It has been on the menu since we opened. The Berkshire pork belly is braised and cooked slowly in a sherry caramel sauce, with a classic Spanish romesco sauce and rock shrimp. In regards to the steps of concept to execution of this dish, a lot of it has to do with what I read, or what I go to eat: I get inspired by things. For the pork belly with rock shrimp, I love the flavors of Spain and had an idea to do pork and seafood. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, so I asked myself, what’s the best-tasting pork? So I went to pork belly. With the sauce, instead of doing something completely sweet, I wanted a vinegar, and used sherry in the caramel sauce. When I went to Morimoto, I loved the tempura battered rock shrimp with ranch dressing. [For the pork belly] I wanted to do langoustines, but they’re soft and I didn’t want to ruin their integrity by frying them, so decided to do rock shrimp instead. And then I took some bitter local turnips and roasted them for caramelization, and liked the nutty texture of the romesco sauce, which uses Marcona almonds. The piquillo peppers gave [the romesco] a very bold flavor.

10-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?

JSchenker- A personal goal of mine is to earn a Michelin star. And I eventually would like to open a larger restaurant with my dream kitchen.

11-(Scoffier) For my personal curiosity, I have read that you have a collection of cookbooks, do you have a favorite book or one who influenced you strongly?

1. Culinary Artistry it’s just a great tool for flavor combinations and seasonal ingredients. It always helps spark my creative process.

2. Escoffier, Art of Modern Cookery– I love reinterpreting some of his recipes.

3. Jacques Pepin, La Technique – nobody should ever go to culinary school- just buy this book and do what he says cover to cover, again and again.

RECIPE: Pork Belly with Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel

Addiction in the Kitchen

Anthony Bourdain’s notorious 2000 book, Kitchen Confidential, exposes the dark, sometimes stomach-churning reality of kitchen life. The now-classic memoir opened the public’s਎yes to a lifestyle that’s very different from what we see depicted on Food Network shows and in glossy cookbooks—one in which mildly depravedꂾhavior coexists (to a degree) with society’s notions of fine dining. Bourdain lays bare the bacteria-laden truth about brunch favorite Hollandaise, psychopathic owners, and narcotic-fueled thinking:

We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in at every opportunity to 𠇌onceptualize,” Bourdain writes of working in a Soho establishment. “Hardly a decision was made without drugs.”

There was pot and there were Quaaludes. Cocaine and, increasingly, heroin too.

When the restaurant closed, we𠆝 take over the bar, drinking Cristal—which we𠆝 buy at cost𠅊nd running fat rails of coke from one end of the bar to the other, then crawling along on all-fours to snort them.

Bourdain’s book paints restaurant life asਊ sort of gastronomic Animal House. It’s all sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and haphazard attempts to prove some semblance of culinary capacity. Hours are long, tensionsਊre high, and booze is both cheap and readily available.

As Solomov suggests, kitchen workers can get blasted all the time. And, by Bourdain’s account, everyone signed up for the same dance.

Jesse Schenker, executive਌hefਊnd owner of The Gander and Recette in New York City, details hisਏixation with਍rugs in the painfully revealing memoir All or Nothing: One਌hef’s Appetite for the Extreme. 

Chatting candidly in the Gander’s front room recently, Schenker proves himself a font of food knowledge, reeling off a litany of਌hefsਊnd dishes from the restaurants he’s worked in without a moment’s hesitation. It’s clear that Schenker loves food. That love, however, was once clouded by addiction to opiates.

Schenker, who had a full-blown marijuana habit at 14, took his first real restaurant job near his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, FLਊt age 15. “The਌hef, the sous਌hef, and the cook were all big potheads and big drinkers,” he says. 𠇎very night after we broke down, we𠆝 go outside and have a beer.” These unsupervised਎venings consisted of typical teenage experimentation, but Schenker’s extracurricular activities progressed at his next kitchen gig.

Chef Jesse Schenker’s memoir, All or Nothing, details his battle with addiciton. (Photo courtesy Recette)

“The big change for me was when I took this job at Jake’s Seafood & Grill—I was 16 when I got that job. The food runner at the time and a couple of the cooks were all popping prescription pills, like Percocet—that was their thing,” says Schenker. “They were probably like 21 or 22. I idolized them, not only for their work ethic and skill, but [because] they got high and I was escaping, self-medicating myself.”

While at Jake’s, he became aware of OxyContin𠅊 narcotic used to combat severe, prolonged pain𠅊nd by 17, he had developedਊn advanced opiateꃞpendency. As detailed in his book, the habit took control of his life. “I was so physically addicted that I was scrambling to get to work, racing to get high after,” he says. “It became noticeable. I wasn’t the best anymore.”

As good as a drug addict I was, I wanted to be as a chef.

Schenker was eventually jailed after being set up in a bust by a former dealer, and despite making some attempts to recover, he took another deep dive into drugsਏollowing an unfortunate exchange in a walk-in of an Asian-fusion restaurant.

“The਌hef was a junkie. I came to work dope sick one day. I was all shaky, and the਌hefꃊme to meet me in the walk-in,” recalls Schenker. “I was in there to grab something and he hands me a needle and bag of heroin and says, ‘Get yourself straight and get your ass back to work.’ That was a turning point for me. That was really bad, that moment. It really started to progress for me.”

That incident precipitatedਊ slippery fall to rock bottom. Homelessness. More jail time. And, ultimately, a wide ravine between Schenkerਊnd his true love: Food.

“I was still so passionate about food,” he says. “When I was straight, that’s all I could think about.” When he finally overcame his disease, he made a vow: 𠇊s good as a drug addict I was, I wanted to be as a਌hef.” At 27, he opened Recette and received two stars from Sam Sifton in the New York Times.

Certainly, Schenker’s story is one of redemption. Kitchen culture has been both his downfall and his savior. “I’m all or nothing,” he says. “I’m a workaholic.”

Though his trials are undeniably extreme—with a “rock bottom” akin to the nightmares imagined by Hubert Selby Jr.—Schenker’s not alone in transferring formally destructive behaviors into positive focus. Gregory Gourdet, a Queens native now living in Portland, OR has made a similar shift. Executive਌hef of Portland’s Departure, Gourdet developed his skills in the fast-paced New York City kitchens of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s venerable empire.

Bolstered by his strong culinary pedigree, Gourdet’s decision to get sober flipped the switch on his culinary career.

“ When I was a cook, the entire kitchen would go out and do coke and party all night,” remembers Gourdet. “I was drinking and using drugs I was always late for work.”   

Gregory Gourdet left New York for a healthier, more focused life in Portland. (Photo:ꃚvid Iliyn)

New York took a toll on him. His move to Portland corresponds to a desire to live a healthier, cleaner life. And, as it did for Schenker and Solomonov, sobriety extended an opportunity to achieve his full potential.ਏinding footing in Portland, which he describes as “not as hardcore as New York,” he’s become a staple of the local food scene and a champion of Oregon’s purveyors. For his efforts, Gourdet was named 𠇌hef of the Year” in 2013 by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Last year, his signatureꃺux-hawk debuted on national television, culminating with a narrow defeat on the Top Chef: Boston finale last week. Somehow, he fits in time to run ultra marathons too.

Inked Chefs Share Their Holiday Recipes

There are a lot of reasons to love Thanksgiving—getting together with friends and family, watching the parade, all of the football games𠅋ut if we&aposre really being honest it&aposs all about the food. If the spread isn&apost up to snuff you&aposll be forced to wait 364 days before getting a chance to wash the bad taste out of your mouth. Don&apost worry, you won&apost have to endure that hardship since we have some great recipes from awesome tattooed chefs to help make your meal something to truly be thankful for.

A good look at Schenker&aposs crepinette tattoo.

Chef Jesse Schenker, owner of Recette and The Gander, gave us this recipe for Roasted Heirloom Carrots that will be sure to impress all of your friends and relatives.

Roasted Heirloom Carrots
5 shallots, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb. small heirloom carrots
5-7 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
2T butter, unsalted
1c. panko breadcrumbs
3-5 sprigs thyme1 clove garlic, smashed
salt, to taste

Place minced shallots in small sautee pan, cover with oliveoil. Heat over very low heat (do not let simmer) until shallots are softened. Preheat oven to 350ꃞgrees. Clean and peel carrots. Toss਌leaned carrots with olive oil, thyme and garlic in a bowl. Place on sheet tray or roasting pan and roast for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. While carrots are roasting, melt butter in medium pot. Add breadcrumbs, thyme and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Salt to taste.
To serve, place carrots on a serving tray and drizzle shallot਌onfit over carrots to your liking. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the carrots.

Of course, if you are hosting your Thanksgiving feast you&aposre going to need a lot more than just an amazing vegetable dish to keep everyone happy. Since people will usually show up hours before the turkey is even ready to come out of the oven it&aposs essential to have some appetizers to snack on.

Early Report on the Gander, a Kick-Back Follow-Up to Recette

He made his name with elegant, seasonal small plates at Recette, but Chef Jesse Schenker was ready to kick back a bit. The Gander, his two-week-old follow-up, is bigger, cheaper, and more casual than Recette, a place to “put the pretension aside, cook for a bigger audience, and just make really good food,” as he told Fork in the Road.

Chowhounds get it, embracing simple, spot-on dishes like fava-ricotta crostini oyster chowder with bacon caserecci with suckling pig ragu and “Buffalo”-style sweetbreads with celery and blue cheese, an encore preparation from Recette. A couple of fish entrées—roasted branzino (with lentils and celery root) and arctic char (with chorizo, leeks, and beurre rouge)—are especially well executed. Even a humble side of carrots is on target, one ‘hound writes, distinguished by “nice caramelization and deep carroty flavor.”

Unlike its sister restaurant in a quiet corner of the West Village, the Gander has a spacious dining room and bar that are primed to draw the Flatiron crowd after work—or for lunch service, which begins next week. As Schenker put it, “I wanted to do a restaurant in a neighborhood where people could be there all hours of the day … come in for lunch for burger and ice tea, stop at the bar after work for charcuterie and wine, or sit down for dinner and have steak and Cabernet.”

The Gander [Flatiron]
15 W. 18th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan

The Gander Is New Manhattan Restaurant Worth Its Name

Tthe brisket 'tots' with potato and mustard.

When naming his new restaurant, Jesse Schenker found inspiration close to home.

"We've been calling my son Eddie Goose since he was 6 months old," he said. The chef settled on a more sophisticated take on that: the Gander.

"It works two ways I'm always telling people 'to take a gander' " at his restaurant in Flatiron District, Mr. Schenker said.

In contrast to his first place, the tiny Recette in the West Village, the Gander gives the chef plenty of room to spread out and try new things. That includes lunch, which is an upscale service that isn't too fussy.

Appetizers include a variety of playful options, like brisket "tots" with potato and mustard ($9) and Buffalo-style sweetbreads ($10) served with blue cheese and celery. There's also a smooth sweet corn soup ($14), served chilled with crispy gnocchi.

Chef Jesse Schenker, wife Lindsay's Val Day dish

Love was in the air on this week's edition of The Dish!

In honor of Valentine's Day, Chef Jesse Schenker, chef/owner of Recette, in Manhattan, and his wife, Lindsay, director of operations at the restaurant, joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" for the first favorite dish from a husband-wife team. The busy couple shared their collective love of food, each other, Recette and their new baby, born last fall.

Their ultimate dish: Papardelle with Lamb Ragu, Parmesan and Basil.

According to Jesse's official bio:

Recette is an urban, contemporary American restaurant that opened in New York's Greenwich Village in January 2010. It has been well-received, with "glowing" two-star reviews from both the New York Times and New York Magazine.

Jesse's love affair with food, started at a young age while growing up in Florida. He collected menus from his parents' dinners and also invested in an extensive cookbook collection that has grown to 350 volumes today.

He went for his Culinary Degree at the Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla. During that time, he gained his first professional kitchen experience at Cafe Maxx, guided by Chef Oliver Saucy. From there, he became the Chef de Partie at Chef Mark Militello's James Beard award-winning restaurant, Mark's on Las Olas and then onto Sous Chef at Fort Lauderdale's celebrated Italian restaurant Rino's Restaurante.

With experience under his belt, Jesse moved to Miami to become Sous Chef at the upscale wine bar, City Cellar Wine Bar and Grille.

After wowing the best culinary cities of Florida, it was time to take on the challenge of wowing foodies in the Big Apple. Jesse was offered a position as Chef de Partie at the two-Michelin-star rated Gordon Ramsay at the London.

He launched his own venture, Recette Private Dining and teamed up with Savoy Bakery owner Brian Ghaw and Per Se pastry alum Christina Lee, and created up to ten-course tasting menus for exclusive private parties.

While Recette Private Dining was thriving, his culinary efforts didn't go unnoticed in the fine-dining restaurant arena. He was given the opportunity to stage at two of New York City's most prestigious dining destinations, Per Se and Jean Georges.

He also launched "Mondays with Jesse" - a monthly dinner series where he transforms the dining room the second Monday of every month and creates a seasonal 10-course tasting menu for his guests.

Jesse and Lindsay met in middle school, but didn't start dating until 2008, after she read about his cooking and tracked down his email address. The rest, as they say, is history.


  • 1 lb. fresh papardelle (or buy good quality fettuccine or linguine)
  • 1 lb. ground domestic lamb
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 oz. tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons basil, chopped

In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, put half amount of olive oil and then add ground lamb and brown. As you're browning the meat, skim off excess fat with a ladle or spoon. Add garlic and shallots once lamb is browned. Cook for one minute and deglaze with red wine. Reduce for another minute. Add spices and vinegar and then add tomato puree. Simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Do not let it completely evaporate be sure to constantly stir it. In a separate pot of salted boiling water, cook fresh pasta for one minute. Strain in colander. Place pasta into pot of ragu. Add fresh basil, cheese, remainder of olive oil. Toss off the heat for 30 seconds. Serve in a large bowl. Eat immediately.

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The Gander (CLOSED)

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

At many restaurants, the wine list can feel like an afterthought. At chef Jesse Schenker&rsquos The Gander, it sets the tone for the entire meal. Once you settle into the cozy yet impressively large dining room, you&rsquore presented with the most extensive wine list you&rsquove ever seen. With more than 650 bottles ranging in price from $55 well into the thousands, the thick binder can seem overwhelming to the layman. Thankfully, the staff will be more than happy to help you make a decision.

The dinner menu is much more trim, offering a selection of snacks, small plates and larger dishes that are meant to be shared. Some starters, like the brisket tots ($13), seemed like elevated bar food. The fried pucks of beef and potato needed the spicy mustard for moisture, but hit the spot nonetheless. Others, like the sea trout tartare ($16), seemed to be something more. The tender morsels tasted refreshing and light, especially when served on a strip of fried trout skin, crispy as a chicharron .

On a recent visit, the large plates skewed toward intensely savory, meaty dishes&mdashideal comfort foods. The duck breast with port wine sauce arrived medium rare, with beautifully rendered, crispy skin ($30). A hot pot of short rib, oxtail and andouille sausage was similarly well executed: the tender beef melted in the mouth, while the slices of carrots and potatoes remained al dente even after being submerged in an ultra savory broth ($28).

As if you needed more, The Gander has plenty of tempting desserts on offer. The deconstructed chai latte&mdasha tea panna cotta served with pieces of espresso sponge, milky ice cream and bittersweet chocolate crumbles&mdashwas as tasty as it was intriguing to the eye ($14). It&rsquos nearly impossible not to leave The Gander stuffed&mdashbut with food this craveworthy, that&rsquos not a bad thing.

‘Iron Chef’ winner Chef Jesse Schenker to open restaurant in Oyster Bay

One of 2017’s most hotly anticipated restaurants finally has an opening date: Jan. 10, 2018.

It’s been well over a year since Jesse Schenker started planning 2 Spring, the aptly named eatery that takes over the building at that address, long the home of Oyster Bay fixture Cafe Al Dente. But the gut renovation is finally finished, the permits are in place, and reservations are being taken.

Schenker (and his young family) moved to Oyster Bay after a very successful run in New York City. Named one of the country’s best young chefs in 2011 by both Forbes and Details magazines, he ran two well-regarded restaurants, The Gander and Recette (both now closed). In 2012, he vanquished Chef Geoffrey Zakarian in an Iron Chef plantain battle.

2 Spring is owned by local residents Claudia and Michael Taglich. The sleek dining room, in warm shades of wood and brick, is a fitting showcase for the chef’s concise, contemporary menu featuring appetizers such as cod fritters with lamb ragu and curry aioli, small plates such as linguine and clams with shellfish bisque and large plates such as spicy lobster with harissa, bread pudding and carrot sauce.

With this new opening, the perennially underperforming Gold Coast town of Oyster Bay looks to be entering a restaurant golden age. 2 Spring follows on the heels of two excellent Italian restaurants, Autentico (February 2016) and Osteria Leana (May 2016) and the second location of the exceptional sushi bar Nikkei of Peru (January 2017).

2 Spring is at 2 Spring St., Oyster Bay, 516-624-2411 , .

Call for reservations, email [email protected] or book online at

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Erica Marcus, a passionate but skeptical omnivore, has been reporting and opining on the Long Island food scene since 1998.

Watch the video: Chef Inspired Healthy with Diane Henderiks featuring Jesse Schenker (May 2022).